Scientists at the FDA announced the development of a new assay to analyze antibody response to Ebola virus vaccinations that does not require the use of the virus.
The new assay makes use of “micro-neutralization” technology, which monitors antibodies’ ability to restrain viruses from reproducing themselves in animal cells. Rather than the Ebola virus, the assay relies on a genetically modified, non-disease-causing virus called vesicular stomatisis virus, which shares part of the Ebola genome.
The lack of the actual virus means the process can skip several additional precautions, such as a BSL-4 laboratory, which is normally required for developing vaccinations for pathogens such as the Ebola virus. The new assay can be used in lower-security, more widely available BSL-2 laboratories.